ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

Review of Women's StudiesSubscribe to Review of Women's Studies

Real Life Methods

This paper argues that an emancipatory impulse is critical and central to feminist method--one which effectively counters a widespread fetishisation of social science research where little attention is paid to the relationships of production of research findings and conclusions. Just as the women's movement and its political critique has affected discourses that are not specifically about gender or sexual distinctions, the emancipatory impulse of feminist methods can also be deployed in enquiries that are not focused entirely on gendered accounts of social phenomena. The aim of this study is not to essentialise certain methods as "feminist" but rather to suggest that methods used by a researcher who is a feminist, in enquiries into phenomenon that throw up questions of hierarchies other than gender, would not remain uninfluenced by her feminist politics. This claim is bolstered by the author's experiences as a feminist researcher studying the segregation of Muslims in Delhi.

Stories We Tell

One of the central methodological insights of feminist science studies has been refuting the binary worlds of nature and culture. Over the last three decades, feminist science studies has developed a vibrant epistemological, and methodological apparatus for studying the natural world as a naturecultural world. Bringing together (inter)disciplinary methodologies, philosophies, practices, assumptions, methods and languages of women's studies and the natural sciences, we see the emergence of new modes of knowledge production. This paper explores the epistemological challenges of studying gender in the natural and physical sciences and the methodological tools the field has developed to study the human and non-human, life and non-life.

The Erotics of Risk

This paper invites contemporary Indian feminism to take a leap outside of its faith--via a humanities turn, using sexualities as a tool--to find a path in academic praxis that resists the structures of moral policing and panics consuming our current political climate. Sexualities offer off-roading alternatives to developmental formations of gendered modernity that confine themselves to the tested, the programmatic and the ethical. The humanities as a method, through sexualities, can propel gender studies to an irrational wanton terrain away from the logics of rights, power and punishment via an engagement with praxis, form and situation into sharp materialist-hedonist possibilities of language, pleasure, profanation, the precarious and the tragic.

Feminist Critical Medical Anthropology Methodologies

The author is a critical feminist medical anthropologist who has been engaged in ethnographic research on women's health issues in India for the past 25 years. Drawing from her own research experiences, this paper explores the methodologies entailed in research as a feminist critical medical anthropologist: by unpacking core methodological assumptions behind each component of her disciplinary position, introducing methodologies at each level--sociocultural anthropology, medical anthropology, critical medical anthropology, and finally feminist critical medical anthropology. It also examines how she has operationalised the fusion of these methodological approaches in her own research projects. The ways in which the findings from this research have contributed to our understanding of gender and can be useful for improving healthcare for women are also discussed.

Impractical Topics, Practical Fields

The histories of the women's movement's protests transformed the discursive and juridical method of constituting rape as an object of reform and research. A traversal of different kinds of registers--protests and law reform, pedagogy and research, testimony and lawyering--reflects on how publicity, sexual violence and public secrecy constitute a field. We must pay attention to the question of method not just in relation to feminist, sociological or anthropological research, but also to the question of methods in lawyering and law reform.

Rape as Atrocity in Contemporary Haryana

This paper highlights the escalating incidence of sexual violence against Dalit girls by Jats in contemporary Haryana, and the extraordinary struggles unfolding in the battle for justice. Details from a few cases through fact-finding visits and interactions present pictures of suffering and courage within entrenched structures of caste, now under siege. The unique place of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act in contemporary Haryana is another major facet of the struggle under way. The paper poses many questions to the women's movement, the wider democratic public, and the state. How much progress has been made in claims towards restorative justice, whereby victimhood can be transformed into meaningful survival?

Locating 'Hyderabad for Feminism' in the Present Struggle against Violence

This paper explores the voice of the urban middle-class youth in the current struggle against patriarchy, focusing on Hyderabad. Within this broad topic, it focuses on the group 'Hyderabad for Feminism', and the kinds of questions, reactions and discussions that occur on its Facebook page.

Some Thoughts on Extreme Violence and the Imagination

This paper explores the relationship between torture and sexual violence. As I understand it, sexual shaming, humiliation and hurt are inalienable aspects of torture inflicted on men, women and transpersons. In this sense, torture is nothing but the utter and violent perversion of the sense of touch, of that recognition of bodily being occasioned by physical intimacy. While easy correspondences between torture and sexual violence cannot be established they are related. To this end, this paper addresses the following questions: How do victims of torture survive that experience? What affords succour to those who have endured unspeakable pain? How is one to understand the manic intensity with which the torturer inflicts violence? It draws upon a range of texts to do with torture and sexual violence--fiction, affidavits, court judgments and descriptions of legal trails.

Gathering Steam

From faint beginnings in scattered solitary actions in the 1990s, the activities of men's rights activists have emerged in India as a well-organised social movement. They denounce feminists with a broad brush, portend the impending doom of the institutions of marriage and family, and particularly attack the simultaneous use of civil and criminal laws relating to marriage and domestic violence for alleged harassment of husbands. This paper uses an ethnographic account of one Delhi group to examine their political strategies and techniques of shaping community and identity. There are lessons here for feminist organisations: from understanding the varied anxieties that bring people to such groups, to identifying the conflation between specific weak cases and general castigation of wives, to studying the specific tactics of an energetic grass-roots contemporary movement.

Protection of Women from Domestic Violence

After a prolonged campaign for criminal and civil laws to curb domestic violence, the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 came into force. However, lasting solutions to the problem continue to be elusive, as the grim statistics of wife murders and suicides by married women record a steady rise. This article takes a close look at the manner in which this law is being implemented on the ground, and the many shortcomings, even as women continue to be blamed--earlier for "misusing" the law and now for not wanting to approach the courts because the justice delivery system is tardy. The crux of the issue is the support network that the victim of domestic violence needs and it is here that the implementation of the domestic violence law has failed most spectacularly.

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